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Protests erupt in US cities over police violence as riot declared in Portland

After a heated week of police violence, protests erupted in several US cities on Friday, at times turning tense.

In the wake of the killings of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old shot by police after being pulled over, and unarmed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, thousands took to the streets to demonstrate, sometimes into the night.

In Chicago, where Adam was killed, thousands marched in Logan Square after the video of the 13-year-old being shot with his arms raised was released this week. The protesters planned to march to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home, some of them calling for her resignation.

The event was largely peaceful, though some police and protesters scuffled as the night drew to a close.

In the Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb of Brooklyn Center, protesters staged the sixth straight night of demonstrations outside the police headquarters. Smaller demonstrations also occurred in downtown Minneapolis.

Authorities had initially declined to declare an evening curfew, after quieter protests on the previous two nights. But after clashes between protesters and police in Brooklyn Center, during which authorities claimed a fence around the heavily fortified police headquarters was breached, an unlawful assembly was declared and 100 arrests were made.

Earlier in the evening, a US district judge ruled that Minnesota state patrol could not arrest, threaten or target journalists after an ACLU complaint that law enforcement was unfairly cracking down on working reporters.

But on Friday night a number of reporters documented being detained by police and released only after being photographed by officers with their press identification badges.

Meanwhile, a protest that began peacefully in California ended with multiple fires set, several cars damaged and numerous windows shattered.

The protest against police brutality in Oakland began calmly Friday night, news outlets reported. A subsequent march drew about 300 people.

A demonstrator confronts a line of police officers in Oakland, California, on 16 April.
A demonstrator confronts a line of police officers in Oakland, California, on 16 April. Photograph: Ethan Swope/AP

People in the crowd threw bottles and other objects at officers during the march, Oakland police said in a statement. One officer suffered an injury from being struck in the head. A community member was also assaulted, police said.

But later, authorities declared an unlawful assembly and instructed demonstrators to leave. Police said the protesters dispersed peacefully. There were no arrests or citations issued.

In Portland, Oregon, police declared a riot on Friday night after demonstrations that followed police fatally shooting a local man while responding to reports of a person with a gun.

Some witnesses said the man was mentally ill, but Portland’s new street response team – created after last year’s protests to respond to mental crises without armed police – was not called.

Chris Davis, deputy police chief, told reporters earlier in the day that a white man in his 30s was shot and killed by police officer Zachary Delong. The man was pronounced dead at the scene in Lents Park, which is in a leafy, residential neighborhood of the city.

Two officers fired a 40mm device that shoots non-lethal projectiles, and DeLong – an eight-year veteran – fired a gun, police said in a statement.

DeLong, a combat veteran, had previously been celebrated by the Portland Police Bureau after he appeared in a 2016 History Channel documentary detailing his role, while serving as a US Army ranger, in a 2010 engagement with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2011, he made news in San Diego after reportedly wrestling a firearm from a suspect, during a “ride-along” with local officers while he was still serving as a soldier. At that time, he told reporters that his father was a PPB officer.

In 2015, PPB also awarded DeLong a Life Saving medal, which bureau directives describe as being “awarded to any sworn or non-sworn bureau member or community member who saved the life of another person”.

Riot police stand guard during protests in Portland, Oregon, on 16 April.
Riot police stand guard during protests in Portland, Oregon, on 16 April. Photograph: Grace Morgan/Reuters

As investigators scoured the scene and documented evidence, nearly 100 yards (91 meters) away, a crowd of more than 150 people – many dressed in all black and some carrying helmets, goggles and gas masks – gathered behind crime scene tape, chanting and yelling at the officers standing in front of them.

As police began to finish on-scene investigation around 3pm the crowd marched through the park, ripped down police tape and stood face to face with officers dressed in riot gear. Police left the park around 3.30pm, and the crowd remained and eventually stood in a nearby intersection, blocking traffic and chanting.

Police said later Friday they had used pepper spray on protesters in order to disengage. Some people hit officers with sticks and chased officers as they were leaving, police said in a news release. Officers deployed smoke canisters and then used a rubber ball distraction device, police said.

The Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, has decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and should be subject to more severe punishment.

“We’ve had to summon just about every police officer in Multnomah county to keep this group far enough away to preserve what we refer to in our business as the integrity of the scene, so that nobody who shouldn’t be in there goes in there,” Davis said, adding that deputies with county sheriff’s office were also helping.

Agencies contributed reporting.

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